hypothetical match-up
March 28, 2010 2:59 PM   Subscribe

Sports Newbie-In a hypothetical match-up between 2 'perfect' ball teams,would the final score be 0-0, or 1000-1000? Or something mixed, like now?
posted by ebesan to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (30 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
You may be interested in parts of The Drunkard's Walk where he takes up a similar question, though not the impossible scenario that you present. Essentially he details how random events tip the result one way or another between evenly matched teams and that this is a good thing -- it makes sports interesting, but it also means that, over the short run (say, in a championship game or a playoff series), the "best" time doesn't always emerge victorious.
posted by proj at 3:11 PM on March 28, 2010


You realize you're asking "Can an omnipotent being make a rock so heavy that he cannot lift it", right? There's no solution unless you define "perfect" to be "the limit of human performance" rather than "perfect", and then I guess it's a matter of breaking it down by the maximum efficacy of a given position (e.g., "The best living left-handed batter will always be able to pick a spot in the outfield where the best living fielders can't catch the ball.")
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 3:13 PM on March 28, 2010


Depends where perfection hits. Perfect pitching against imperfect batting means nobody ever scores; perfect batting against imperfect pitching means the first team up never stops scoring runs, ever. But you can't match perfect against perfect, because by definition perfect pitching would mean no hits ever, and perfect batting requires that pitches be hit.
posted by Tomorrowful at 3:15 PM on March 28, 2010


If this isn't Inspector.Gadget's question, it's some variant of "does good hitting beat good pitching" where good means "as good as humanly possible" and I think it's going to vary by sport (unless by "ball" you mean only baseball). In baseball, I think, based on All-Star games that it'll be closer to 1000-1000 than 0-0. Definitely the same for basketball, probably the same for hockey. Football, I think, presents the closest case for good defense being able to consistently beat good offense.

But these are very subjective guesses.
posted by ewiar at 3:25 PM on March 28, 2010


This depends mostly on what ball game you're talking about (since you don't specify.) If we're talking about, say, soccer, or American football, then the answer is that two perfect teams playing against each other would score 0-0, because the opposing team has a very real and direct way of preventing goals, and because therefore the perfect defense would match the perfect offense every time.

But if you're talking about baseball, then the fact is that, regardless of the defense either team puts up, it is still possible to score. The pitcher must throw strikes at some point to avoid walking players; and the batter therefore can hit home runs every single at-bat. And once a batter has hit a home run, there's nothing any defense can do to stop it from becoming a run.

I guess you could argue that it's just as possible for a perfect player to kick the ball into the soccer goal or run 100 yards to a touchdown on every play as it is to hit a home run, but then you're taking your hypothetical perfection to a ridiculous level, if you ask me.
posted by koeselitz at 3:30 PM on March 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


A baseball game between two perfect teams would never end.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 4:08 PM on March 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


A baseball game between two perfect teams would never end.

Exactly this.
posted by Thorzdad at 4:12 PM on March 28, 2010


If you define "perfect" as pitching a no-hitter/hitting every pitch, then this question is meaningless, like wondering what happens when an irresistible force meets an immovable object. The two ideas are mutually exclusive within the same universe (or in this case, within the same ballgame).
posted by Rhaomi at 4:18 PM on March 28, 2010


if you're talking about baseball, then the fact is that, regardless of the defense either team puts up, it is still possible to score. The pitcher must throw strikes at some point to avoid walking players; and the batter therefore can hit home runs every single at-bat. And once a batter has hit a home run, there's nothing any defense can do to stop it from becoming a run.

Following this logic, plus the randomness factor, the answer (for baseball, specifically) should note that the first side of the first inning would never end until/unless a sufficient number of umpire errors were called (calling unhittable balls as strikes.) After all, we're not talking about two perfect teams and a perfect umpire.
posted by davejay at 4:22 PM on March 28, 2010


(My answer is only true for baseball, though, since each pitch must result in either a fair hit or a ball/strike/foul/etc. I see, though, that OP is from Mexico and is probably talking about soccer. In that case, I suppose two perfect teams could kick around the ball forever without making any goals. But if you define "perfection" rigorously as a team that always makes every attempted goal and never allows the other team to score, then you come to the same impasse. Soccer just doesn't force the issue as directly as baseball does.)
posted by Rhaomi at 4:26 PM on March 28, 2010


A baseball game between two perfect teams would never end.

A perfect "game" in baseball is defined as 27 batters and 27 outs with no walks, no errors, and (obviously) no runs.

After nine innings, the pitcher can give up a home run to the 28th batter, lose the game, and it still counts as a perfect game.

So 1-0 would be the answer for baseball.
posted by three blind mice at 4:56 PM on March 28, 2010


basketball?
posted by ebesan at 5:01 PM on March 28, 2010


basketball?

No. Baseball is the only (US) sport that permits this sort of discussion. It's what makes baseball both great and incredibly tedious.
posted by mullacc at 5:19 PM on March 28, 2010


(It's his question, mullacc. If you want to talk about baseball, ask your own question.)

As far as basketball goes, it's an interesting question. On the one hand, if the other team can play perfect defense, there's no chance of scoring; on the other hand, if every player is a perfect basketball player, then each one can throw a perfect basket from the other end of the court before defense even comes into it. I guess it depends on how 'perfect' these perfect teams are. The idea that a player can land a shot from across the court every single time might be a little too perfect; in which case neither team would score.
posted by koeselitz at 5:27 PM on March 28, 2010


Ttwo perfect baseball teams would end every inning with the score tied. Baseball has no mechanism for "sudden death" or "shootouts"; a baseball game only ends when at least nine innings have been played and an inning ends with the score not tied. So the game would never end.

TBM's comment about "perfect games" is beside the point.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 5:37 PM on March 28, 2010


TBM's comment about "perfect games" is beside the point.

The question is nonsensical as asked. Two "perfect" teams would have both perfect offense and perfect defense which makes no sense: every strike out would be a home run, every home run a strike out. You couldn't even score a game like that.

A perfect game is the closest real world situation that makes sense.
posted by three blind mice at 5:54 PM on March 28, 2010


As others have said, I think this is some kind of chatty angels-dancing-on-the-head-of-a-pin irresistible-force-meets-immovable-object tree-falls-in-the-forest bear-shits-in-the-woods thing, and pretty much unanswerable.

First pitch: perfect pitcher throws to perfect hitter. If the batter makes contact, that's not a perfect pitcher (giving up a fall tip counts as a strike, but I don't think it counts as perfection). And if it's not an out-of-the-park home run, that's not a perfect hitter.
posted by box at 6:00 PM on March 28, 2010


If a pitcher allows a home run to the 28th batter, it is not counted as a perfect game.
posted by scottymac at 6:11 PM on March 28, 2010


Chocolate Pickle: “Two perfect baseball teams...”

three blind mice: “every strike out would be a home run, every home run a strike out...”

box: “First pitch: perfect pitcher throws to perfect hitter...”

Am I the only one who got the memo? This question is about basketball.
posted by koeselitz at 6:11 PM on March 28, 2010


Holy crap, koeselitz, you're right.

Okay, then: your two perfect basketball players go up for the opening tip-off. What happens?
posted by box at 6:16 PM on March 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


Baseball is the only (US) sport that permits this sort of discussion.

Unless "perfect" means "imperfect", then I don't think any sport anywhere permits this sort of discussion. This question, as others have noted, is totally unanswerable without some sort of clarification.
posted by 23skidoo at 6:35 PM on March 28, 2010


Since you perfect in scare quotes, I'll assume that you don't mean perpetually incapable of making a mistake. I'll assume that you mean is two teams with the very best players that a human could be; better than Michael Jordan, but still human.

In this case it seems that the game would come down to luck. A great offensive player/team will still be able to shoot the ball against a great defense player/team, but the shots will certainly be mostly bad shots taken as the shot clock winds down (the defense won't be able to block many shots). Of course, even bad shots go in sometimes. So, both teams will occasionally score and the winner will be the team that has the most luck.
posted by oddman at 8:15 PM on March 28, 2010


Interestingly, the NBA East's best points-per-game team, Toronto, plays the best points-per-game-allowed team, Charlotte, tomorrow. So whatever Toronto scores, that'll answer your question. Well, maybe not.

In general, a strong defensive team will shut down a strong offensive team, so hypothetically, it'd be closer to 0-0 than 1000-1000. But if you add more of a human element to it, you could get into specific player matchups that could favor one team over the course of the game.

Baseball, of all the major team sports, is kind of tricky because the same pitchers don't play every game. But hitters generally pad their stats against weaker pitchers, so in general, pitching/defense would also win out here.

And the "perfect game" term is misleading since it can only potentially apply to pitching/defense. For a batting lineup to have a perfect game, you'd never get past the first inning.

And while I'm at it, I think two near-perfect hockey teams would end up 1-0 (eventually). Scorers can get off great shots, but they'd still get stoned by the goalies. Happens all the time in real life.
posted by TheSecretDecoderRing at 9:13 PM on March 28, 2010


Hm. Thought about this more than I should, but: here's how the perfect teams basketball game would go. In a nutshell, the tip-off would be a dead heat -- the ball would drop straight down, and one team or the other would get possession by chance rather than skill. From that point forward, every shot made would be perfect (if unblocked), but every block attempt would succeed without penalty, and so no goals would be made. In short, as long as a shot could be blocked, it will be blocked, regardless of how perfect the shot itself was. So, a 0-0 game.

However, goals could -- and would -- be made whenever the shot could not be blocked because the game's rules forbid it. The only shot that cannot be blocked is the free-throw shot. So, the final score would be settled entirely by how many bad calls the refs made, and in whose favor. Remember, no actual fouls would be made, so every penalty called would by definition be a bad call.

If we leave it to chance, the refs would make bad calls in favor of each team 50% of the time. Add in personal bias, and the percentage would swing. The most likely ref bias would be in favor of the home team, of course -- and so the game would end one of the following ways:

#1: 0-0 (no bad calls by the ref)
#2: x-y (where unsufficient bad calls were made to make the statistically-predicted 50/50 average, winner unknown)
#3: x-x (where sufficient bad calls were made to make the statistically-predicted 50/50 average)
#4: x-y (where a ref's bias gave the advantage to the home team, winner the home team)

Two of the four have no winner -- tie game, presumably after the maximum overtime allowed by the rules had been reached. Two of the four have a winner, and one of those two has the home team winning, so 75% chance the home team would win with a non-zero score and 25% chance the visiting team would win with a non-zero score.

Okay, time to put my plate of beans to bed.
posted by davejay at 10:29 PM on March 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


Actually it's nearly impossible to block a long range jump shot. In fact the only time it ever happens in a game is if the defender is unusually taller than the shooter (it happens most often when the shooter is an unusually short guard). Since, both teams are as good as humanly possible there is no need to assume that some of the players are forced to match-up against wildly disparately sized opponents. So, most long range jump shots would be well-defended but not blocked. (Short range jumps, having a much flatter trajectory, are easier to block).

Furthermore the sky-hook simply cannot be blocked. Since it is launched at the top of the jump from the shoulder/side that is away from the defender, there really is no way to block it. Great offensive players would just post-up the defender and shoot sky-hooks all night. Would they all go in? No, the defender can affect the shot by playing good defense (forcing the offensive player out of position for example). Nevertheless a few hook shots and three-pointers would go in. (You could double team the shooter, but then he could pass out of the double team to a wide open teammate.)

Finally, there are a variety of plays that could get you more or less open shots. One example is the fast-break pull-up jumper: A player dribbles toward the basket on a fast-break, but rather than going for a lay-up he stops short beyond the foul line (sometimes even farther out than the three point line) and shoots a jumper. The decision to pass-up the lay-up is unexpected. So, the defender is almost always unable to stop quickly enough to effectively defend the shot.

So both teams would score a bit and the team with the most luck would win.
posted by oddman at 6:25 AM on March 29, 2010


BTW
A perfect "game" in baseball is defined as 27 batters and 27 outs with no walks, no errors, and (obviously) no runs.

After nine innings, the pitcher can give up a home run to the 28th batter, lose the game, and it still counts as a perfect game.


(this is actually wrong. Pedro Martinez actually pitched a perfect 9 innings in a game and gave up a hit in the 10th losing both the perfect game and the no-hitter)
posted by bitdamaged at 7:08 AM on March 29, 2010


[everything you said before, ending with] So both teams would score a bit and the team with the most luck would win.

Well, hells, you're absolutely right, and where there were no bad ref calls, the luck of the tip-off would give us a score of 0-0, 1-0, 1-1, 2-1, 2-2, 3-2, 3-3 and so on, as each team getting possession would shoot a sky hook or long range jump shot, giving possession to the other team. So whichever way the tip-off went (luck-wise) would determine the game as they'd be the first to score, unless they went into overtime while tied, in which case the way the second tip-off went (luck-wise) would determine the winner, as they'd score first.

So 50/50 team a wins on the first tip-off, otherwise 50/50 team a wins on the second tip-off, so 75% chance the first team to get the ball wins, 25% the other team, unless the ref mistakes/bias enter in. So with the refs, it was 75/25 favoring the home team, but luck favors nobody.

So if the home team gets the tip-off, they're 75% to win, and if the away team gets the tip-off, they're 50% to win. Money still goes on the home team.

I probably f'd up the maths somewhere, there.)
posted by davejay at 12:54 PM on March 29, 2010


this is great!

FUTBAL? (soccer)
posted by ebesan at 5:19 PM on March 29, 2010


Futbal/soccer: your perfect goalkeepers block everything that's shot at them.
posted by box at 5:33 PM on March 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


Actually I am not just being chatty.
I was watching the play-offs last night, and just wondered....what if they were REALLY, amazingly proficient?
The qustion is interesting, and instructive to me, for multiple sports.
I do not know much about baseball, so the discussion is good.
posted by ebesan at 6:12 PM on March 29, 2010


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